Innocent Duru has an unbreakable bond with newspapers. As a child, his father would give him local and international newspapers before going to sell on the streets of Ibadan.
“I developed interest in news writing and even before I went to school, I knew how to write news,” he said.
The more he read the stories, the clearer it becomes to him he should be a news writer, not just consumer. When it was time for higher education, he couldn’t think of any other course other than Mass Communication.
As an undergraduate, he studied hard to learn the practice of journalism. He so much wanted to never have to sell newspapers again but to write news.
He considered journalists as role model worthy and would read, in awe, the structure and manner in which they weaved words into stories.
He believed a good news story should be compendious. Feature stories were his favourite and he took no one by surprise when he bagged the Nigerian Media Merit Award (NMMA) Feature Writer of the Year 2017.
Shortly after his graduation from the University of Lagos, he worked as a freelance reporter at The Sun Newspaper. Owing to his journalistic prowess, he moved on to The National Life Newspaper before they went out of existence and got merged with The Nation’s Newspaper.
When he got a job in 2012 as a reporter with The Nation Newspaper, Nigeria’s widest circulating paper, his joy knew no bound. Life as a son of a vendor had taught him to treasure such an opportunity.
It was one he was willing to take with both hands. He started out as a feature reporter in the Saturday desk and worked his way to being an award winning journalist in NMMA 2017/2018.
His entry in the award category ‘We’ll rather perish in the desert’, was borne out of the need to uncover the mystery behind Libyan returnees.
He felt that their stories were not given justice as many reporters just tell the tale of their escapades without unraveling the actual truth about their sufferings.
He went a step further by going to Edo state where most of them came from to scout for news about their illegal travel through the desert.
The entry ‘Pedophile on the prowl’, on the other hand, came from a report he got about the abuse of children in Yobe states by pedophiles.
He decided to extend research by reaching out to the people involved and gathered enough information to make a captivating story which earned him a nomination.
He mentioned he faced stiff opposition from government officials that were involved in the pedophiles’ case and also from the refugees but he was able to overcome the challenges with his experience as an investigative journalist.
His ability to weave words into captivating stories allowed his entry stand out from the rest in the category.